Nestled in one of Central Alberta’s most fertile valleys between Calgary and Edmonton lies Lacombe, a historically rich and picturesque city of 12,000. The City of Lacombe is responsible for providing residents with essential services, utilities, and amenities including fire and rescue, water and sewer, transit, and recreational resources.
The City of Lacombe implemented Working Papers and Canadian Financials as part of an effort to improve and modernize the production of its annual financial statements. Not only has CaseWare Working Papers delivered on those expectations, it is delivering time and financial savings well beyond the City’s expectations.
Saving $45,000 in Fees
“We implemented Working Papers in 2013 and used it that first year to produce the City’s financial statements, plus the statements for five of our entities. It was a complete success,” recalls Theresa Musser, Financial Services Manager for the City of Lacombe. “Shortly after we implemented Working Papers, we were able to renegotiate our audit services contract with our accountancy firm - for a savings of $45,000.”
From Months to Weeks
Like many municipalities, the City of Lacombe had been producing its annual financial statements using Excel® and Word®. There were literally dozens of complex and interlinked spreadsheets involved in the process that typically took four months to complete.
“It was very time consuming,” Musser recalls. “With six separate entities to report on, we sometimes needed to request an extension in order to complete the filings.”
Using Working Papers, the City shaved that four-month cycle down to just two weeks. “It’s so much more streamlined and straight forward now,” Musser notes. “And we’ve dramatically cut down on the paper used, since all of our data and supporting documents are now stored electronically in the CaseWare files.”
Without the need to print and route paper files throughout the office and to and from auditors, the entire process is more visible, trackable, and accountable.
Streamline Audit Cycle
The City’s audit firm also uses Working Papers, which further speeds and simplifies the statement production process. “The auditors have easier access to our data now; they can quickly find the files they need to review, and can follow a clear audit trail to where our numbers are coming from,” Musser says. “Before CaseWare, our auditors were typically on site for ten days. Now they only need three days on site. We are realizing an overall annual savings of 25 percent. This is a huge benefit to Lacombe.”
Now, rather than providing numbers and supporting data to the audit firm for compilation of the financial statements, the City is generating its own financial statements using Working Papers. “This is important,” says Musser. “It makes for a pure audit, where the accountants are auditing our work, not their own efforts.”
Partner Adds Value
The City of Lacombe engaged F.H. Black & Company Incorporated, a CaseWare Certified Consultant, to implement Working Papers. “F.H. Black is just fantastic at what they do. They thoroughly understand the software and the nuances of municipal accounting,” says Mussser. “They set up our templates, provided us with great training, and help us understand additional ways we can leverage Working Papers.”
Leverage the Tool
One of the additional ways the City of Lacombe is leveraging Working Papers is by using it to produce its Financial Informational Return (FIR) and quarterly financial reporting. “F.H. Black prepared the templates for us and now producing these reports is very straightforward and efficient,” says Musser. “We had never even attempted quarterly reporting before because we saw it as too labour intensive.”
Improve Confidence in the Numbers
In addition to the substantially reduced audit fees and a faster year end attributed to Working Papers, the City also has improved overall confidence in its financial statements. “When you’re relying on spreadsheets, you must constantly double and triple check formulas and formatting for accuracy,” notes Musser. “There was always a concern that as we copied worksheets, something would get dropped or broken. With Working Papers, we have no such concerns.”
We Love It
CaseWare has provided a much simpler year end for the City of Lacombe. Musser concludes, “Our auditors love it. Our Council loves it. Our Commissioners love it. And we love it!”